Saturday, July 7, 2018
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said on Saturday that he did not desire power, insisting that he wanted to only provide rights to the poor.
Addressing a rally in Uch Sharif, Bilawal said he was not competing against any individual or political organisation. “My fight is against poverty and injustice. Our government will distribute ration cards among the poor,” he said, adding that his party’s government had created many jobs for the youth but it was still being criticised by its detractors for not constructing a metro project. “Let the people decide if they want jobs or metros,” he said.
Bilawal’s convoy stopped by Punjab Police
Earlier, Bilawal’s convoy was stopped by a team of the Police Department while it was on its way to Uch Sharif. According to the police, the convoy had wanted to make a stop at the shrine of Syed Jalaluddin Surkh-Posh Bukhari which was not mentioned in the route plan shared with them by the campaign team.
Speaking to Daily Times, Bahawalpur RPO Rana Faisal said that the PPP chairman’s convoy was stopped at Chowk Azam for security reasons. He said the security escort accompanying him for not as per the directives issued for the security of political leaders.
Subsequently, the PPP campaign team contacted the Election Commission of Pakistan and directives were issued to let Bilawal proceed with his journey after a delay of one-and-a-half hour.
PPP chairman’s spokesman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar was quoted in the media as saying, “I conveyed to the DSP that Chairman Bilawal Bhutto is the head of a political party and under relevant electoral laws, he cannot be stopped from campaigning in any part of the country.”
Further, Bahawalpur DPO Dr Iqbal Malik said Bilawal then visited the shrine, and offered prayers before leaving for the cotton factory of former MNA Ali Hassan Gillani on Ahmadpur Road, where he addressed the gathering.
Pakistan has asked China to keep lending it money to prevent a foreign currency crisis, warning that Beijing's planned $60bn investment in the South Asian country was at risk if it failed to do so...Over the last financial year ended June 2018, Pakistan borrowed $4bn from China according to government officials and wants to keep the money flowing to avoid having to ask the IMF for a bailout.Officials in Islamabad have warned their Chinese counterparts that if the lending stops, it could threaten the future of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the cornerstone of President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative.They say that if Pakistan is forced to approach the IMF instead, it may have to disclose details of how the scheme is being funded...
The Pakistan government hasn't yet revealed that to even its own citizens?
By Gen. Shashi Asthana
Under normal circumstances, a one billion dollar loan between two sovereign countries would have gone unnoticed by global community, but what makes China’s one billion dollar lending to Pakistan so special is the timing of this loan and the strategic intention behind it. The economics of this loan to justify the need to buffer Pakistan’s foreign currency reserves, which nosedived to $9.66bn last week from $16.4bn in May 2017, taking China’s lending to Pakistan to over $5bn in this fiscal year, has been well covered by all the segments of media in India and abroad. The messaging and the strategy behind this bailout need deeper analysis.
Timing and Messaging
|Pakistan's Begging Bowl.|
The timing of the loan, which raises eyebrows, is that it comes immediately after Pakistan being officially included in the grey list of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). FATF is a global body, (of which China is also a member), aims to combat money laundering and terror financing, while taking the decision was convinced that Pakistan has failed to act against terror financing on its soil. China’s tried its best to help its ‘All weather friend’ Pakistan by responses to indicate that they are doing their best to fight terrorism and have made enormous sacrifices towards that. This aid package indicates China’s resolve to signal the global community, that it intends to keep Pakistan economically afloat irrespective of FATF ruling. China is apprehensive that if Pakistan sinks economically (if it does not get IMF aid package which it will bid for after elections), it may well happen that China may not find enough investors for CPEC, and may be its own companies may find it difficult to sustain the project. With this gesture China has tried to raise the confidence level of its investors in CPEC/BRI, despite the risk of criticism of diluting FATF, despite knowing that Pakistan cannot pay the interest of its loan and needs further loan to repay its interests with sinking economy.
Why Pakistan is strategically lucrative to find donor for bail out?
Pakistan’s geographic location is strategically so important that US, as well as China will like to have influence over it. For US, Pakistan is relevant to keep its competitors under check and have bases to launch operations in Afghanistan, especially against al-Qaeda and Haqqani network. As Pakistan provided the bases and manpower to enable US to fight in Afghanistan against Taliban giving shelter to both, it extracted billions of dollars from them as bailout packages, besides military hardware on the excuse to ward of Indian threat to concentrate on fighting on Afghanistan borders to serve US interest. Now US is acting tough on them, post “New South Asia Policy of Trump Administration”, blocking the aid to them, as it is convinced that Pakistan did not do enough to target al-Qaeda and Haqqani network and continues to help them. US is however, in no mood to give a free run to China to cede this strategic space so easily in this region, hence the strategic competition in this region is not yet over.
China needs warm water access for its Western region and smooth flow of energy and trade through this region besides some of the minerals in Pakistan. CPEC and the related infrastructure also give China an opportunity to utilize its overcapacities in Pakistan. This will end up in insurmountable loan for Pakistan, beyond its paying capacity, which may result in Chinese land grab as well as resource grab and some compromise to sovereignty of Pakistan by “Debt/Financial Offensive” by China, which has been very successful in some countries like Myanmar, Maldives, Sri Lanka and others. China also has a strategic interest to keep US out of this region. China therefore has enough strategic reasons to keep Pakistan economically afloat for its own strategic interests, hence it has gladly taken over this role from US.
Pakistan transition to Chinese colony
From global prism and Indian perspective the financial crisis of Pakistan is dangerous. If China continues to be determined to bail it out every time, Pakistan’s status will be reduced to a colony of China, with considerable PLA’s presence in context of protecting CPEC and other investments. Presently Pakistan is a sham democracy with Pakistan Army giving an impression of binding and protecting the country by holding all levers of power. If Pakistan collapses, then, with the number of terrorist groups being nurtured, there is a danger of it coming under Jihadi rule or becoming another Islamic caliphate, which the world community has to deal with, which can be far more dangerous with nuclear assets including tactical nukes present there. With Pakistani Army’s and ISI honeymoon with terrorists, including getting them a backdoor entry into politics through Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League fighting elections, the radicalization of Pakistani Army is reasonably evident. It is time for the global community including China to revisit their support to Pakistan, and prevent it from being diverted to self destroying Terroristan.
Once again, Pakistan has supplicated China’s financial aid in the amount of $1 billion loan to buffer the dwindling reserves, bringing Islamabad’s increasing dependence on Chinese bilateral loans to a voluminous amount of $5 billion in debt. In the wake of the latest precipitous currency devaluation that has left the economy staggered, it comes as no surprise that the establishment is breaking out the old begging bowl. Where the justification fastidiously accorded for the devaluation was that it was a necessary measure to stabilize the country’s fast plummeting foreign currency reserves, it seems that plunging the country headfirst into gaping inflation was but in vain. Where Beijing’s attempts to prop up Pakistan’s economy is -partly- a mutually beneficial enterprise in the interest of funding the desperately needed power and road infrastructure for CPEC, pivotal to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, the pitfalls of shackling the economy in copious foreign debt have to reckoned with.
It is a tragic farce where the establishment refuses to learn from history, as every passing government resorts to quick-fix economic crutches to resuscitate a flat lining economic regime. Pakistan’s economic policy has historically fettered itself to international patron politics, enlisting the help of seasonal allies and international financial institutions to bail it out. At this economic downturn coupled with devaluation, the country is not only facing escalated inflation, the value of the mounting foreign debt has swollen as the local currency has depreciated and the corresponding interest rates have also amplified.
With the growing speculation of appealing for yet another International Monetary Fund bailout, the country is ostensibly at the bidding of its lenders. While the increased borrowing has rendered the country financially shackled, the political implications of being beholden, be it to a world-body or an amenable ally are even more worrisome, for the fine-print of international borrowing comes with according the lending organization a peremptory space in formulating policies and overall economic management of the country. While with institutions like the IMF such stipulations are mandated, inter-country lending comes with less obvious, yet very similar interventionist prerogatives.
What is discernible is that successive establishments have dug the state into an economic pothole that it has no chance of escaping till it makes a concerted effort at becoming economically self-sufficient. The crux of the matter remains that the country has once again found itself at the feet of lending supremacies incurring further debt it has no foreseeable chance of repaying, placing the financial and political administration of the country at the whims of neo-imperialist powers.
The daughter of Muhtarma Benazir Aseefa BhuttoZardari has said that the manifesto of PPP is , labourer and poor friendly manifesto. She was addressing to ladies of Larkana during a corner meeting for Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari NA 200.
By Afrasiab Khattak
An important but not properly debated aspect of GE 2018 is participation of militant/suspected terrorist organisations in the electoral process as a part of the “mainstreaming ” launched by state security agencies. The recent criticism of Nawaz Sharif at not taking the case against accused persons in Mumbai terrorist attack to logical conclusion clearly indicates the split between civilian and military ruling elites on the issue. The split also explains the inability of the state to act decisively against the religious militancy in Pakistan. The National Action Plan ( NAP) approved by an All Parties Conference in December 2014 is history now. It is quite clear by now that it was more of an exercise in public relations on international level rather than a serious decision to combat religious militancy.
The phenomenon of religious militancy emerged in 1970es after the disintegration of Pakistan. Some religious political parties and their supporters in the armed forces believed that the main cause of the country’s disintegration was the lack of proper “Islamisation” of state and society. They acted quite smartly to build their campaign. On the one hand they convinced Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to become leader of the Islamic world rather than confining himself to Pakistan and on the other hand they encouraged the opposition political parties to demand the imposition of Islamic system. That was the aim of formation of Pakistan National Alliance ( PNA) in 1977 and Islami Jamhori Itehad ( IJI) in 1989. One of the main reasons for launching a military coup against ZAB by fundamentalist military officers was his failure in the eyes of putschists to adopt Islamisation as nation building and state building strategy. Religious extremism is for this fundamentalist mindset a tool to deconstruct ethnic and cultural diversity that can threaten the country’s unity. The Afghan Jihad, supported by dollars and petro dollars was a golden opportunity for the followers of religious fundamentalism to promote their cause. Religious seminaries for spreading Wahhabism/Salfism and Jihad became big business under state patronage. Using the so called non state actors to fight wars of attrition in neighbouring countries also became an industry. This is something that Pakistan has failed to jettison so far, the loud pious noises to the contrary not withstanding.
After 9/11 the project of religious militancy underwent some changes as it wasn’t anymore possible to continue it in the old form. So a distinction was created between “good” and “bad” terrorists. Afghan Taliban are for example “good Taliban” like LeT and JeM as they don’t fight inside Pakistan and are ready to be used as foreign policy tool for the country’s military establishment. The so called proscribed organisations are allowed to operate under new names. The latest technique of “ maintaining “ the religious militant organisations by contesting elections is dangerous as it has the potential of opening the floodgates for spreading the religious extremism and militancy. There are certain SOPs for de radicalisation the world over. Former militant organisations have to go through certain procedures like proper disarming and renouncing militant ideologies. But here a mere change in nomenclature is accepted as a justification for legalising the proscribed organisations.
The reported death of a Taliban Commander Abdullah in a US drone strike in Datta Khel ( north Waziristan) on July 4 is a proof of the presence of Taliban in the former FATA region. It belies the claims of clearing the area from terrorists. Pakistan has gone in once again into grey list by the international watchdog of terror financing and is not far from getting into the black list. The country is facing international isolation on this issue. Traditional and close friends like China feel frustrated over Pakistan’s failure to decisively act against religious militancy which is justly regarded by China as a serious hurdle on the path of Belt & Road Initiative. After launching CPEC and joining Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, it isn’t possible for Pakistan to keep on appeasing religious extremism. Pakistan has already wasted long years in supporting Talibanisation in Afghanistan. The country could have leaped forward on the road of economic development by getting into Central Asian markets. Unfortunately the Jihadist tail has been wagging the dog far too long. It has internally radicalised the state and society and has externally led to the country’s isolation.
The approval of National Action Plan ( NAP) by every political party in 2014 has clearly demonstrated a national consensus on a paradigm shift in regard to combating extremism and terrorism. Non implementation of the said Plan has seriously undermined the country’s transition from geo strategic to geo economic in the post Cold War era. It goes without saying that supremacy of the elected representatives and respect for constitutional system is a pre requisite for such development. But the large scale and blatant political engineering underway in the current electoral process clearly proves that Pakistan has a long way to go for reaching that stage. Democratic forces need to wage a determined struggle for that.